A musician and producer who laid down some of the bedrock sounds of hip-hop has passed away. Larry Smith, an early Def Jam affiliate who played and co-wrote hits for Kurtis Blow and co-produced the first two albums by Run-D.M.C., died last night. That’s according to rap industry veteran and podcaster Combat Jack, citing a conversation with Smith’s family.
Smith played bass on Blow’s first single, 1979′s “Christmas Rappin’.” That led to co-writing and bass-playing work on other Blow songs, including the hit “The Breaks.” Later, with Russell Simmons, Smith produced Run-D.M.C.’s 1984 self-titled debut album as well as 1985′s King of Rock. He also worked with Simmons on a pair of singles for Jimmy Spicer (including oft-sampled 1983 single “Money (Dollar Bill, Y’all)”), played as a member of Orange Krush and produced albums for Whodini.
Run-D.M.C.’s Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels recently told Ebony, ” Larry was Rick Rubin before Rick Rubin.”
Listen to a selection of Smith’s work below. Little other solid information was immediately available; according to Combat Jack, Smith’s family has asked for him to be remembered through his music.
Kurtis Blow, “Christmas Rappin’”
Kurtis Blow, “The Breaks”
Jimmy Spicer, “Money (Dollar Bill, Y’all)”
Orange Krush, “Action”
Whodini, “Freaks Come Out at Night”
Run-D.M.C., “It’s Like That”
Run-D.M.C., “Rock Box”